Praise you know who

John McCaslin
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Posted: Nov 03, 2005 12:05 AM

Imagine being a Christian chaplain in the U.S. military and not being allowed to recite the name of Jesus when praying.

"As you may know, the Air Force leadership recently released proposed guidelines that will restrict how Air Force chaplains can pray, and if approved those guidelines may well be implemented throughout the entire Department of Defense," 70 congressmen warn President Bush, referring to guidelines now under consideration for so-called "nonsectarian" prayers.

The lawmakers contend the Air Force's suppression of religious freedom "is a pervasive problem" throughout the armed forces, given how difficult its become for Christian chaplains to refer to Jesus by name.

They want Mr. Bush to issue an Executive Order protecting the chaplain's constitutional rights.

VICE SQUAD

Rebuilding Aunt Suzie's Yarn Shop is one thing. But Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia is drawing the line when it comes to Congress providing special tax breaks to massage parlors, casinos, liquor stores and country clubs damaged by the recent hurricanes.

The Republican chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee for commerce says federal tax breaks should go instead to "more deserving businesses," and he wants Congress to say so in writing new regulations.

SPENCER FOR HIRE

Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has taken his top aides and formed the Abraham Group, an international strategic consulting firm.

The Washington-based firm tells us it is seeking U.S. and foreign clients who require counsel in domestic and foreign markets, from Europe and Russia to the Middle East, China and Latin America.

WELCOME HOME, JERRY

Leave it to Maria O'Leary to have invited guests this year to bring their "own three-paragraph obituary (then begin living your life as you would like to be remembered)" to her popular pair of Day of the Dead celebrations at her Old Town Alexandria home.

Each year on Nov. 1 and 2 (All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day), the Mexican-American mother of five and owner of Nuevo Mundo, Old Town's original fashion and jewelry boutique, invites friends and family to a viewing of her colorful "Altar to the Dead." The main icon of the traditional several-tiered altar is Mrs. O'Leary's late husband, well-known Washington newspaperman and White House correspondent Jeremiah A. "Jerry" O'Leary Jr.

It's a sad fact of life that the altar grows larger each year - it's so elaborate it practically fills an entire room of O'Leary's 18th century home - as more acquaintances of the hostess pass away. But as O'Leary knows from her Mexican roots, erecting such an altar - a tradition of Mexico's annual Dia de los Muertos celebration - welcomes the dead back into their homes.

As this year's invitation stated, whichever obituary writer was judged the best will receive "a home-cooked Mexican meal for eight prepared by Maria." (Take it from this columnist, you'd better like garlic.)

RUDY AND HILLARY

Just out are the latest PoliticalDerby.com 2008 Power Rankings, compiled through analysis of voter polls, press reports and "campaign staffer scuttlebutt."

Leading the Republican horses is former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, "the GOP's one bona fide rock star .. . . dominating poll after poll after poll after poll after poll," according to the rankings.

Behind him, in order, are Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Virginia Sen. George Allen, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (his popularity growing since Hurricane Katrina), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (riding high off her "brilliantly conceived" press tour of her home state of Alabama and from political strategist Dick Morris' assertion that she's the only hope to stop Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from reaching the White House in 2008), Arizona Sen. John McCain, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee. (Keep your eyes on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who's rising in the polls.)

Opposing horses are led by Clinton, whose "rightward drift sure doesn't seem to bother Democrats." (The Oct. 25 Marist poll shows her opening a 24-point lead over previous presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.)

She is followed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean (albeit, as the rankings note, despite the incredible bully pulpit of the DNC, "Dean has fallen further off the charts than JLo's latest album.")